Camera shy and often media-adverse, Daniel Day Lewis granted only three interviews on his trip down the red carpet Saturday night at the Arlington Theatre to receive the Montecito Award at the 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The Montecito Award is granted to performers who consistently deliver “classic and standout performances” in their roles over the years — an award that could have been invented for Lewis. The lucky young reporters from the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press team were one of the media outlets selected to interview the legendary actor.

A humble and often quiet Lewis has a reputation for not wanting to talk about himself, especially to the press. Carol Marshall, the head of publicity for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, spoke with Lewis’ publicity agent prior to his red carpet appearance.

Lewis’ agent initially specified that Lewis would only do “two interviews,” but then she recalled last year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival event when she was working for Martin Scorsese, and remembered the middle school students who interviewed Scorsese.

“When the light bulb went off, the publicity agent quickly added, ‘… and the Teen Press kids!’ to her list,’” said David Teton-Landis, one of the SBMS Teen Press advisers.

The young reporters were hard to miss among the media lining the red carpet. Twelve-year-old Drake Rabin’s tall Lincoln top hat and Civil War era bow tie stood out as the two teens asked Lewis to imagine his own life in film 50 years in the future titled, The Morsels of a Man: The Daniel Day Lewis Story. The reporters asked him to imagine how his life should represented as “… a child? An adult? A father? And a legacy?”

With a broad smile and a sincere laugh, Lewis replied, “Wow! That’s an enormous question.” As a child, Lewis described himself as “well-behaved, until I became naughty.” Lewis then added, “The idea of working in theater came to me when I was really young — 11 or 12 — that was the only thing that was going to save me.”

Teen Press interviewer Grace Crozier, commented, “I was surprised at how long he talked with us.” Wide-eyed Crozier continued, “He was laughing and so relaxed; he was definitely present.”

A vivid imagination, one of Lewis’ most notable attributes, was also the ingredient that made this interview a lively and sincere success.

Click here to view the entire interview.

— Sue Carmody is a community outreach coordinator for Santa Barbara Middle School.